Anyone who’s hung around here for a while and still has a few active brain cells knows the Canadian Pontiac story by now: They look like real Pontiacs, but they’re really Chevys under the skin, including a slightly shorter 119″ wheelbase and X-frame rather than the US Pontiac’s 120″ wb and perimeter frame. But the most obvious result of that was that these Cheviacs were deprived of the famous “Wide Track” Pontiac suspension. And this 1964 Laurentian, posted at the Cohort by William Oliver, shows that all-too obviously, especially so in the rear wheel well. Is there a tire hiding under there?
Here’s a ’63 Wide-Track Catalina for comparison. Obviously, the front wheel is cocked a bit, but the rear wheel really pushes out against the fender line, unlike any other American car during the era. And the ’63 Pontiac’s rear fenders were the first to bulge out a bit, foreshadowing the Coke-bottle styling of 1965.
Pete Estes and John DeLorean had used the quite simple trick of widening the ’59 Pontiac’s track mostly for visual impact, to differentiate it from the other new ’59 GM cars, which all shared the same basic body. It wasn’t all cosmetic, as there was an intrinsic benefit in flatter cornering as a result, although the stock suspensions were hardly sporty.
From this view, the poor Cheviac looks almost like it’s up on jack stands. These cars also were all-Chevy under the hood too; typically a 283 with Powerglide for a modest low-trim sedan for the thrifty Canadians. Meanwhile, even the lowliest American Catalina came with the husky 389 Trophy V8.
Yup; this car does have a decided Bel Air vibe to it. And looking at it from the profile answers the question as to where the missing one inch in wheelbase went: the rear wheel is obviously a bit forward in that rear opening. The US Pontiac used the same B-Body, but with their different frame and exterior sheet metal, they located the rear axle one inch further rearward, centered in its opening.